olimay: (Default)
Interesting "prolegomena", apparently Chapter 33 of the Zhuangzi, which is a survey of schools of thought at the time. I'd not heard of a lot of them, and the conception I had for a few seem different from the description.

Mozi - Mohists, the "ascetics". My concept of them was a rational-empiricist school. But portrayal here is more like the Cynics of Diogenes' mold.

Song Jian / Yin Wen - tolerance, let go of your material possessions, consideration and forgiveness--very Christian (or Cynic in the pattern of Crates of Thebes)

Peng Meng, Tian Pian and Shen Dao ("Temple of the God of Grain group") - detachment, resignation to inevitability, rejection of control over life by reason: live in a state of nature and transcend morality ("P'eng Meng's teacher used to say, 'Al the ancient followers of Tao tried to do was to reach the state beyond praise or blame.") and pretty close to the popular misconception of Laoist thought with a touch of noble savage. Zhuangzi says they only partially understand Dao.

Laozi & Guan Yin - big contrast in the Laozi wuwei vs the Temple of the God of Grain "return to nature". Note that Guan Yin is the officer who persuaded Laozi to write his book, not Guanyin the Bodhisattva of mercy. Instead of "reject humanness, be an animal" we have "appear like clear water", movement in a state of rest. A great deal harder to understand.

Zhuangzi - constant change, lots of questions, radical skepticism!

Hui Shi and the "Sophists" - Why this borrowed term in the translation? Subtlety probably lost on more modern readers, who oversimplify "sophist" as "fake philosopher". Anyway: context dependence of verbal logic, relativity of time and space. Zhuangzi thinks these exercises just amount to playing around with words, no matter how impressed the logicians seem. Later Wittgenstein (according to the summary of others; I've never read the guy) would probably agree with Zhuangzi. Hui Shi really likes to talk, likes to blow other peoples' minds with words, revels too much in the material. But Zhuangzi thought of him as a good friend and a worthy mind.
olimay: (Default)
It seems that the great truths of the world have been seen by the wise men of all ages, regardless of country and period. Dr. Millikan, Einstein, Eddington, Emerson, Laotse and Chuangtse, with different backgrounds and possessing different tools of knowledge, come back to nearly the same thing. The preceding statement of belief is, I believe, acceptable to most thinking modern men. But the ideas are characteristically Taoist: "it is enough for me to contemplate, etc.," "the intelligence manifested in nature," "which we can dimly perceive," and "that part of Him that became us." Emerson, too says, he was a part of "God in nature."

The looping, circular, relative, seemingly anti-positivist view. Something that resonates with me aesthetically, much more than reductionism ever did. But maybe not Lin's version, which is about a combined cultural and intellectual wholesomeness. More anti-materialist than anything. I'm more about the skepticism. Or so I think. Haven't really examined myself. Don't know if I'm well read enough to really do so.

Interestingly, Lin scoffs at people who say that there was no one real person as Laozi (or Zhuangzi); says that it is a continuation of a bad attitude earlier anti-intellectual ages:
it should be remembered that critical skepticism became almost a disease in the Manchu Dynasty, and in the case of Laotse this may be attributed to the pernicious influence of Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, who thought that Laotse's book was most probably produced by some forgers in the third century. There was so much loose talk about forgery, and textual critics could not distinguish between a forged work and later interpolations of single passages. Therefore, when one hears a Chinese scholar saying that Laotse, or the great majority of the chapters of Chuangtse, was a forgery, without sufficient show of evidence or exact reasoning, one may be sure that he is merely aping a fashion which has by now become very tiresome.

Rings of apologia. I need to look again, but Spitznagel, who references more recent Sineticists, seems to entertain that possibility a bit more.

[Lin, Yutang. (1948). The Wisdom of Laotse. Random House: New York.]

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